Play Room: Play Space or Storage Space?

What Works? A Play Room or a Play Space at

I spoke to a lovely group of mothers last fall. One of the questions that came up really made me think.

It was about playrooms. And storing toys in them. (I can’t remember the question exactly.)

PLAYROOM! was at the top of my list when we were searching for a house.

We had three kids ages four and under, and I thought it was a Must Have.

I got my playroom, but I now realize I didn’t use it correctly in those first years.

I had big dreams. I set up a reading corner with a comfy cushion, blocked off by a bookshelf. I bought a handy-dandy IKEA unit that seemed perfect for keeping (lots and lots of) toys tidy.

I put an art easel and craft papers and all sorts of things in there to encourage creativity.

Day One was great. But at some point between Day Two and Day Umpteen, it turned into a toy storage room.

Or a toy ocean.

Or a toy abyss.

Every stray toy was (literally) thrown in there. Soon, we couldn’t find the reading corner because the whole room was knee-deep (literally) in stuff.


And it was no longer a play room. Because no one played in it.

Because they couldn’t.

I answered the question by saying that since I stopped storing toys in the playroom, it has stayed clean. And play-in-able.

Seriously. Since this post (written over three years ago) when I completely purged the playroom of piddly stuff and only left the big stuff like a play kitchen, table and chairs, and baby bed . . . it has stayed under control.

Because now . . . it is a play space.

A stage for pretending.

We do keep toys in the bedrooms, and we struggle to keep those rooms from becoming an abyss. But I know that the fewer toys we have, the easier it is.

And the more they play.



--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    It really is an issue of too much stuff, in my opinion. Now, I don’t have kids so take this with a grain of salt, but I’m really of the opinion that kids have WAY TOO MANY toys. I know I did! I think 16-18 Barbies is just too many! Aren’t they all basically the same? Maybe get the outfits, etc but not soo many dolls. The clothes will fit them, the bodies are all made the same! I don’t know if Barbies were specifically a problem in your house, but I know they were for me when I was a kid, and that’s just one thing. I had lots and lots of other toys besides just Barbies. Our parents and our grandparents had very few toys, they played outside, used their imaginations, etc and they turned out just fine! 🙂

  2. 2

    My kids have TOO MANY toys and honestly, we don’t buy them for them on a regular basis. They get way too much for Christmas from the relatives…some of it junk. Shhhh….but I hide some it away after Christmas if they haven’t touched it for a few weeks (you know the stuff…something someone bought because they didn’t know what to get) and I donate it eventually if it is not missed. Toys and kids clothes are the hardest for me. I have two boys, 5 years apart, so I want to keep the nicer clothes (church type) from my oldest for my youngest, but really it is getting out of control (youngest wears a 7/8 and oldest wears a men’s medium.) This is my continual problem that I feel like I never get under control.

  3. 3

    Yep. Uh-huh. Exactly. So true. I so know what you’re talking about! My littlest one is turning 8 this summer and I am weeding out toys like crazy. It is still painful for me, but I now know I’ll live through it and so will they and then – we all are much happier and more content.

  4. 4

    I realized when my kids had just as much fun playing with paper towel tubes, empty boxes, and other non-toy things, that all the money I was dumping into toys was a waste. Not that it stopped me from buying them, but it was an eye opener. Now they don’t play with toys (I spend small fortunes on clothes, video games, CDs, and DVDS instead) and I’m glad. Except for a few special items, they’re GONE … and I don’t miss them at all. Mostly because the only real time they were interested in playing with them was after I organized their toy box and shelves – and then only long enough to trash their room again. 🙂

  5. 5

    I don’t have kids but I definitely agree. My fiance is my “practice child” haha. He’s a big gamer and loves nerf guns and pokemon. All the nerd paraphernalia was taking over our little apartment so I got an old school trunk to put all the odds and ends in and a basket to sit next to the couch for the game controllers. Having a place that he can put all of his nerd things really helps keep things clean and the rest of the apartment more “adult.” Now that he knows where everything is he can find it and use it (and figure out what he doesn’t use.)

  6. 6
    Brittani A. says:

    When we bought our house everyone was happy to (finally) have our bedrooms. For a split second I thought about having the smaller bedroom for beds only and the bigger room for toys. I came to my sences. Unfortunately for my boys a new baby came along and took care of the whole situation. Now the older two are again sharing.

  7. 7

    So true! Here are my before and after declutter photos of our school/playroom:

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